You make your list, check it twice. Then, you head out to brave the crowds at your local farmer’s market. Instead of buying packaged, sugar-ridden food, you buy what you know your body needs — crisp greens, tender tomatoes, fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables and fruit.
While no one really enjoys creating waste, going completely plastic-free while eating fresh is tough. If you’re 80% plastic-free but tired of using plastic to get your produce to the checkout counter, check out our 100% natural cotton grocery bag.
Before long, your bag is filled up with delicious, whole foods you will be proud to bring home to your family. The only challenge: eating all that wonderful produce before it spoils.
Here are 9 storage hacks that will increase the life of your produce.
1. Look for Perfect Pairings
Forget peas and carrots. Apples and potatoes are the best food friends. Store them together in a dry Swag in the pantry to keep them both as fresh as possible. The apples will keep the potatoes from sprouting. Also, place them in separate Swags after they have been pulled or cut. Use a damp Swag in the crisper to store cut apples, potatoes, onions and garlic.
Image Source: 30 Pounds of Apples
2. Keep Your Berries “Berry” Cold
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries need colder temperatures to thrive. Keep them in original packaging to protect them from damage, and place the crates in a wet Swag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Another great tip? Momables recommends washing your berries in a vinegar and water bath before tucking them away in the fridge. Then, thanks to the environment the Swag creates around them, you can almost double the life of your berries!
3. Separate Woody from Tender Herbs
Thyme, lemon chicken. Rosemary lamb chops. Basil, garlic pesto. Fresh herbs add magic to every meal. But how do you keep them fresh until you’re ready use them?
Food 52 recommends separating your herbs into categories: tender and woody. Tender herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro and tarragon have soft stems and should be stored separately from woody herbs, like rosemary, oregano and thyme.
Gently wash these in cold water, be sure to dry well and store in a damp Swag in your refrigerator. For best results, snip the base of your tender and woody herbs and immerse the bases in water. Keep them outside of the fridge at room temperature. Also, be sure to check the water regularly.
4. De-Root Your Rooty Vegetables
Root vegetables, such as beets, carrots and radishes, have leafy tops that should be cut off before storing. This keeps them fresher longer. Also, rinse them carefully to remove excess dirt. Then, store in a damp Swag anywhere in your refrigerator.
5. Protect Your Precious Produce
Did you know that storing some fruit in the fridge does more harm than good. What foods should never be refrigerated? Tomatoes, for one. The fridge breaks down their natural fibers. It makes them meaty. The Kitchn explains the science of tomato storage and how cold air damages the vegetable’s membrane, giving it a mealy texture. How should tomatoes be stored? On the counter at room temperature, tucked away in a small Swag.
The same is true of stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and plums. Never store in plastic and keep them at room temperature, stem down, in a Swag. They will stay juicy and fresh for days longer! Peppers also need cold and damp storage. But keep them far away from fruits that will cause them to ripen faster. Of course, if you prefer to eat your fruit cold, just store them in the fridge a few hours before eating. Bon appetit!
Image Source: A Red Binder
6. Collect Your Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include: brussel sprouts, collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy and leeks. This cancer-fighting family lives and breathes as just that – a family! Keep them together, and keep them fresh.
Also, never wash these vegetables before you store them. Store them in a damp, cold place – preferably the vegetable or crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Feel free to mix and match while they are whole. Store them in a separate Swag after they are cut.
7. Let Your Leafy Greens Breathe
Like we mentioned in our blog about leafy greens, there is such a thing as too much moisture. Pinch My Salt recommends using a spinner to remove excess water from lettuce after it is rinsed. Then, she stores them between two paper towels and in a plastic Ziploc bag. This keeps them moist enough to stay fresh but dry enough not to wilt.
However, we want to take it one step further and keep your vegetable plastic-free! The Swag’s outer layer lets air in, while the middle layer holds water. The inner layer protects your lettuce from getting too much of either one. The result? A perfect balance of air and water, no plastic bags or wasted paper towels – just better all round. Enjoy your spinach, arugula and kale for days or weeks longer!
8. Mind Your Mushrooms
Mushrooms need a cold, dry and dark environment. Tip Busters recommends wrapping them in a paper towel and then inside a perforated plastic bag. The paper towel absorbs moisture and the plastic bag lets air in. A brown paper bag also does the same job as both, without using plastic.
What does an even better job than the 1st two options? The Swag. Just place your mushrooms in a cool, dry Swag and place in the crisper drawer. The inner protective layer will keep them dry, while the outer layer will let air in, while keeping light out.
9. Store Stalky Vegetables Smartly
While root vegetables need to be trimmed to thrive, stalky vegetables like asparagus and celery are best left whole. Avoid cutting them before use, as Food52 recommends. However, instead of storing celery in aluminum, which isn’t the best environmental choice, use the Swag. The Long Swag helps you avoid having to cut celery or asparagus before use. No plastic or aluminum needed, and no waste to report! Keep the vegetables damp and loosely packed for best shelf life, and store anywhere in your fridge.
Storing vegetables in plastic is not only a bad idea, bad for them and bad for you – it’s outdated!
We’ve known for a while that organic materials need organic storage space. Plus, wrapping them in plastic traps ethylene and other gases which speeds the ripening process and can cause toxins to leach into your food. Want to reduce food waste? Get your Swag on.